tv Charlie Rose PBS October 22, 2012 12:00pm-1:00pm PDT
>> rose: welcome to the program. tonight a conversation with j.k. rowling about her new book, and about harry potter as well. >> in a sense it was liberating to leave that weight of expectation behind and know that i could just do what i wanted to do. it was very freeing. but i must say that i spent the first two years working on the casual vacancy telling myself you don't even have to publish that. you don't even have to publish that book, and that was a way of bringing down my other than awareness that, you know, people, it wasn't going to be what some people wanted it to be. you know, because as we both know coy have kept writing harry potter forever, pretty much. >> rose: j.k. rowling for the hour, next. funding for charlie rose was provided by the following:
j.k. roeling is here, if you do not know who she is, let me tell you, two decades okay she sat on a delayed train when the image of a scrawny, blackaired bespectacled boy without did not know he was a wizard came to her. her vision soon captured the imaginations of readers around the world and it began an unprecedented cultural phenomenon. "time" magazine has credited harry potter series with creating a fictional universe so detailed and believable that an entire generation has pretty much chose tone live there. it is the best selling book series in history, with more than 4 -- 450 million copies sold in 67 languages. eight movies have also been spawned and they have grossed $7.7 billion worldwide.
now five years after laying harry pot tore rest, she has written her first book for adults. it is called the casual vacancy. i'm pleased to have j.k. rowling at this table for the first time, welcome. >> thank you very much. >> rose: we have been waiting for you. >> really, good, nice to hear. >> rose: how much trepidati did you have after you decided to put harry to bed. >> uh-huh. >> rose: in deciding what you wanted to do and how to do what you inevitably wanted to do, is write another book. >> uh-huh. that's a good question. because i had the idea for the casual vacancy right after finishing deathly hallows, you know, so i was actually pro meeting deathly hallows in the states and i had the idea in the states while in a plane. and. >> rose: on a plane, is khrushal.
>> one is on a train, one is on a plane. so you need to keep me moving and then i get my ideas. there's always trepidation. i mean i think that people might be surprised to know that i felt trepidation every time i produced a potter book. the weight of expectation there was, i won't say crushing t was extraordinary and wonderful to have that expectation but-- and with the expectations, laterally of millions of fans whole of whom were very invested in the story and knew what they wanted to see and i knew which was going. i had to put on mental blinkers a lot. i knew where i was going and must not be influenced by this. in a sense it was liberating to leave that weight of expectation behind and know that i could just do what i wanted to do. it was very freeing. but i must say that i spent the first two years working on its casual vacancy telling myself you don't even have to publish that, you don't even have to publish this book and that was a way of bringing down my own awareness that, you
know, people t wasn't going to be what some people wanted it to be. you know, because as we both know, coy have kept writing harry potters forever, pretty much rses and why didn't you? >> because i always envisaged it as a seven book ears. i had enough plot for seven books. and i always knew i would stop at 7. and i am not going to lie, it was heartbreaking in many ways. because harry was with me through a very turbulent period of my life and it was always a place that i could go. you talk about readers always being able to go there. it was a place i was able to go. and to close the door was, it was like a death. but i knew that it was time to go. and i've not regretted it. i think it was definitely time. >> rose: he meant what to you other than all the obvious things, fame, wealth. >> it changed my life, the most obvious thing clearly, it utterly changed my life. it transformed my life, my life situation. we were in a precarious, my daughter and i were in a
precarious situation for a few years. but beyond that, it connects me, harry connected me to-- it's just been the through line through so much of my life. and so when i look at the back of the books, i can remember where i was when i wrote all these, 17 years i spent with those characters, 17 years. >> rose: but do you talk to them this some real sense. i mean -- >> the one that i miss the most beyond any character is dumbable doer. he was a strange character because i always say i feel like i wrote him from somewhere in the back of pie brain. we often say things i didn't know i believed but once i saw that dumbledore said then i said oh yeah, that's true. he was an interesting character and i miss him. if i could talk to any of them t would be dumbledore. >> this mirror gives us neither knowledge or truth. men have wasted away in front of it, even gone mad.
that is why tomorrow it will be moved to a new home. and i must ask you not to go looking for it again. it does not do to dwell on dreams, harry. and forget to live. >> rose: so you set out to write this new book. you knew it was going to be about adults. >> uh-huh. >> rose: what else did you know after you had that inspiration on that plane. >> well, the germ of the idea was a council election, a local council election that would be subverted by teenagers. which was a device to expose certain secrets, yeah, that was the basic idea. and i was excited by that idea because it was going to give me an opportunity to explore a lot of things that are important to me. and things that obsess me, frankly. >> rose: like? >> well, for example, i have
just talked about the fact that i was in a very precarious situation. for a few year i was probably as poor as you can go without being homeless in the cut. u.k. which is not to say that friends and family didn't help me, because they did. but you know, it was tough. >> rose: and you were writing a book and had to depend on the government. >> well, yeah, i did. although i was working part-time at the-- the law was you could earn up to a very small amount a week without forefitting housing benefit which was the thing that was keeping us homed. so i worked up to that amount. i had a clerical job in a church at one point. so, and then i was teaching. but we were still existing partly on benefits. i couldn't wholly support us. and then the miracle happened. harry was published. and we really didn't look back after a few months t changed my life. but that period, that period of my life was a formative experience for me. and it shaped my worldview.
and it always will shape my worldview. the experience of having been part of a mass of people who are very voiceless. the experience of being scape goated and stigmatized because that was the political climate at that time, really has coloured my worldview ever since. and i don't think i will ever lose that. >> rose: define you what mean. i think you know what you mean by worldview. >> well n that, it's a frightening experience to become a statistic to almost fall off the radar of what people think is important to discuss. and to be talked about in terms that you don't recognize. and i think that something i felt very powerfully after emerging from that situation, was people lose their individuality when they are trapped in that kind of poverty. it is a humiliating place to be. and to-- your life in ways that people have never been there cannot comprehend. your choices contract. so even someone like me who had a university education, you know, i had-- i was an educated person bo wanted to
work very much. i was really trapped. you know, with you fall beneath a certain level of poverty and without rich relatives, it's very, very difficult to get out of that situation. >> rose: and you want us to understand these are real people. >> yeah. >> rose: with real lives. and generosity-- and all these other human qualities, everybody has. >> exactly right, yeah, yeah. >> rose: and do you want us to also understand that they feel, not only that they don't matter, but that others perhaps more fortunate have contempt for them or just don't know them? >> well, i think it's a mixture of both. i think that it's easy to caricature. i would say that this is-- i feel this is not a black and white book in the sense that i do not wish to glamorize every poor character in the book nor do i. i'm not suggesting that everyone who is living in poverty is heroic. but all i would say is there
is probably about the same proportion of unheroic characters living in poverty as there are in other classes. >> right, right. >> so certainly there were some very unpleasant people in this book who happen also to be poor. but the action centers around a 16-year-old girl who has grown-up in tremendously difficult circumstances. and the question for me is, and the question i hope the reader ponders is is she worth saving, who should be saving her, to what extent is this her fault. >> rose: this is crystal. >> exactly, yeah. >> rose: tell me about the story. i want to come back to you, because of what you have just said, the casual vacancy has to do with the death of a councilman. >> right it was initially in my head i was calling the book responsible because the theme is personal responsibility. and responsibility in a community, sense. but then i found this phrase which i've never met before t is a casual vacancy when someone occupying a political seat dice, they leave the casual vacancy. and that phrase spoke to me
on so many levels. because its characters in this book all of them, i would say, have a lack or vacancy in their lives and fill it in different ways. >> rose: a metaphor for everything. >> yeah. >> rose: we mentioned teenagers several times. what is it about teenagers. >> i don't know. do you think it is arrested development in me. i don't know. >> rose: i do know that you said that your teenage years were not that happy for you. >> i loved stephen king said if you enjoyed being a teenager there is something really wrong with you. and that made me, that really struck me here. i mean i-- . >> rose: so a happy teenage core not write a book like this, or like stephen king. >> no, no, definitely not. well, actually, i think the urge to write-off encomes from a wish to rearrange reality, the reality are you in, so i don't think i've ever met-- . >> rose: is it easy to make it a fantasy or make it a real village that has real people. >> to me there is honestly truly not much difference. and there are very different kinds of books. but for me, what obsesses me, morality, mortality, that was-- .
>> rose: those two things most of all. >> absolutely. >> you run through everything you do. >> they run through harry potter completely. i probably will never be able to-- mortality and morality. >> a very close friend of mine. i finished the book and the first thing they said to me was how many people die. he knows me so well. >> because he knows you. >> to go back to the teenagers point you raise, i think that i am fascinated by people who are on the cusp of adulthood, it's such an interesting time of life. i think most of us would say that we, again, it's another very formative period in everyone's life. >> rose: it's rebill-- rebellion. >> but you are also very vulnerable and these characters are vulnerable. >> rose: and looking for edification. >> absolutely. but also which is interesting about adolescence is often much more concerned with the big issues of life than the people in middle age like me who are struggling with the minute usualia of every day life. we all get bogged down in that to an extent. >> they are concerned with the essence of life which is relationships, love, fear. >> one teenage boy asks another in this book what matters.
and the answer is sex and death. and then as an afterthought, music. now none of the adults characters are having that conversation. >> rose: they're worried about mundane. >> worried about paying the bills. and you know they are right to worry about payinged bills that is important too. >> rose: you were worrying about paying the bills yet at the same time you were writing about, the fantasy of teenagers and everything else. doing both at the same time. you had to be an adult worrying about paying the bills and at the same time being deeply inside of a life where they are not worrying about it, they are only thinking about-- an unimagined world of which sex, relationships -- >> yes, completely, yeah, yeah. i mean that is the life of a writer. i have to have a for want of a betr term a real life, and look after my kids. and then i have this other life as all writers do where i'm somewhere else completely. >> rose: you want us to look for what happens to crystal, and who is she in this book.
>> yes, definitely, yes, yeah. >> rose: and how do we find her? >> well, i think that people reading the book have had varying reactions to her. i think that if someone were to read this book and say that they couldn't find any redeeming quality in crystal and they didn't ultimately feel she was worth saving, then i might not have anything to say to that person. i mean-- . >> rose: they have missed it. >> i would suggest, yeah, yeah. >> rose: what did you think her redeeming qualities are. >> she has aspirations. she has grown-up in a household where-- . >> rose: she has dreams. >> she has grown-up in a household where there is no aspirations. no one has given her a model in how to succeed or live a different life. and yet crystal has this lat ent desire to succeed, to achieve. she wants to hold her family together. she's parenting her younger brother, who is being quite egregiously neglected i will their biological mother. so i think there is a lot in crystal to love. at the same time she's pro
miss coupous, foul mouthed, pretty ignorant, intermittently violent so i'm not glorifying crystal. this isn't olver twist, someone who has worked on hardship and come out the other side. >> rose: and how much of her is you? >> well, i think it's kind of scary when applied to me because i created something, 200 and something characters in the potter book but they say that every character is every writer. >> rose: but is it beyond that for crystal. >> i wouldn't say that crystal-- . >> rose: she drives this story, does she have to be in part you or somebody you've known. >> no one in this book has a living model but at the same time i have known people like everyone in this book. >> rose: a composite. >> yes, exactly. crystal is, i went to a school not unlike the school represented in this book. and i certainly knew girls like crystal. in the plural. there is no one single girl. and i also talked for a while, as i said earlier, i was teaching. and again i was teaching in state schools where you had
a very mixed intake. and again, i met people whose backgrounds were not dissimilar to crystal and whose behavior was not dissimilar to crystal. >> rose: this is the small -- >> she is rooted in reality wz. >> rose: it is the smallest microcosm of government, city council. >> exactly right. >> rose: is that important to foe. >> i think it is. a parish council in the u.k. is the tinniest building block of democracy. and i would say that in writing about it, i became really impressed. you know what, it's easy to is a tirize small town concerns but i, what i merged with was the knowledge of how much their decisions which may seem relatively small can have a huge, meaningful impact on other people's lives. i mean i'm really pro, it is very easy to denigrate the political process and engineer at politicians. and i've done it myself. >> rose: sure. >> but there's no other way to get stuff done. and a lot of people, and in this book you see a great array of motivations for becoming a councillor.
but the guy who died on page two or three, he was in it for the right reasons. this is someone who had left a background not quite as bad as crystals but it hadn't been great. and he had been very poor. and he wants to make a difference. and he sees that as a valid way of making a difference. have a voice and give people who don't have a voice a voice. >> rose: suppose you were the same woman writing harry potter and you are. >> uh-huh. >> rose: but are you a billion dollars later, with no serious worries. you are less hungry. and you have said you didn't have to write this book. >> no. >> rose: you didn't need to write another book. >> yeah. >> rose: you may have needed it for your own psyche but you didn't need it for, to make money. >> uh-huh. >> rose: you didn't need it for reputation. you didn't need it for legacy. >> uh-huh. >> rose: would it have been different if you did need it in the same way you needed harry potter. >> would i have written a different book, dow mean. >> rose: yeah. >> i think that is a really fascinating question.
i don't think so. i didn't think so i think i would have written this book just the same. >> rose: and is it a better book, in fact, because you have had this whole journey and migration from being poor, starting in middle class with good schools, then poor, then he nor lose-- enormously rich. do you understand class better than most people because you've been everywhere? >> possibly. >> rose: possibly, yes. >> yeah, possibly. >> rose: so what do you foe about it, that we all are alike in so many ways. >> yes, completely. >> rose: we are all jealous and we all have rage and we all worry and we all worry about morality and mortality and sickness. >> a seec hero is quoted in this book, one of the families who is khrushial to the plot and the sikh hero, he said, and it's just the most beautiful thing, he treated foe and friend alike on the battlefield. and when asked why he was
giving aid to any wounded soldier, not just his side, he replied, i can't differentiate between them and the light of god shines from every soul. now that to me is the post beautiful, poetic way of expressing a common humanity. >> rose: well, it's interesting, and this is far from this book. but bill gates in terms of giving away all of the billions that he has given away, and focus on global health and poverty and disease. >> uh-huh. >> rose: says that it sprang from a sense that all human life has value. >> right. no, i would totally agree with that. i mean you talk about the journey and understanding those different points of view. i mean i-- i am exactly the same person i was then when i was struggling to write harry potter and hi no publishing deal and didn't know whether it would ever be published. and my need to write is completely unchanged. so some things don't change at all. other things change hugely. primarily the way you are viewed by other people.
>> rose: dow care about that, at this stage? >> no, it's not that it's not that i care about that or worry about that, but that is the big difference. that's the big difference. >> rose: how they see you is different. >> suddenly people are interested in what you have got to say. >> rose: exactly. >> and no one gave a damn what i had to say at trz are you the same person. >> the same person and i pretty much would say the same things now. but now people want to hear it. that can be disconcerting t can be disconcerting. >> yeah. >> rose: to have that interest. >> do you ever say to yourself am i that interesting? >> i done give that many interviews because to be honest i just get sick of the sound of my own voice. i just think i don't have enough opinions to fill-- i don't know. it's-- you work in a hungry medium, you know. and i find it-- yeah, sometimes quite intimidating. >> rose: it is a larger point. is writing what it is that you are happiest when you are in search of a character and where that character is going to take you. >> you know when i'm happiest is when i'm about two-thirds of the way through a book and always at
that point i'm flying. always, i'm flying. and i'm just, that is the place i live to be. two-thirds of-- wake up in the morning, i'm about two thirsd of the way through, i know exactly where i am going and have the wol day to write. that to me is a perfect day. >> rose: and do you try to perfect each sentence or do you want to -- >> yeah, it doesn't always work out that way, but yeah you are always hoping to. >> rose: i have been told the books you turn into your editor are pretty of the book that gets published. you don't require a lot of editing. >> well, that's kind. i look back at some of the potter books and i itch to go back with a red pen and cross out. >> rose: but that is self-editing. it is not some of that somebody else edited you. >> with this book, no, there wasn't a-- well, i've got a great editor david shelly and he is that perfect person who, it's like a coach, you know, who knows how to get the best out of you. so he was fantastic. so. >> rose: how does he get that out of you. >> he just has a phenomenal understanding, he had on this book he had a
phenomenal understanding of what i was trying to do. and there were places where he said, that's great. but you need to do more of that there, or-- just fine-tuning. and he was just phenomenal. he had a great understanding of what i wanted to do. and was on my side. because you know when we went, it's always nerve-racking turning in a manuscript. >> rose: peopleow make these kinds of parsons, dickenson, elliott, and that kind of thing. my point is not do you think of yourselves as any of those. but my point is what kind of acknowledgment and appreciation would satisfy you the most. >> oh pie god. -- my god. because you -- >> i think it's very dangerous for a writer to start thinking those terms. i really mean that this isn't false modesty. i'm enormously-- i'm enormously flattered that anyone would mention those
names. i will say i consciously wanted this book to be a modern take on that kind of 19th century novel where you do go into a small society and you really analyze and an at my that tiny society so that is great that people would say, you know, they would recognize that i'm trying to write in that tradition. there is a difference between that. and me sitting there thinking now who would i like to be compared to. >> rose: that is why i asked the question that i did. i didn't want to you think that i was thinking-- do you -- >> i think it's probably-- . >> rose: dow rich woman think of yourself as dickens. >> no, i really get that, i think it's a fair question. but i also think that i do genuinely think that if you are-- if are you sitting there thinking now who would i most like to be compared to, you are wasting your
time. just get on and work. do the work. >> rose: yeah. but who are you writing for? >> my ideal reader has an open mind. and loves character, i suppose. >> rose: but when you are writing dow see like a movie. do you see this-- pretty soon i assume after harry potter you saw the character as exactly like the movie character for harry potter. >> interestingly-- no. >> rose: interesting? >> no, i didn't. >> rose: you never thought of him as -- >> with one exceptio exception-- exception this is what is interesting. i never saw dan or rupert or emma as my-- no, because hi lived with them so long i saw my characters in my head there was one exception and i have said this before, if anna lynch who played luna lovegood, i saw her.
>> that-- they are conspiring against you and dumbledore. >> thanks, seems about you are the only one that do. >> i don't think that's true. but i suppose that's the way he wants to you see it. >> what dow mean? >> well, if i were you know who, i would want you to feel cut off from everyone else. kuz if it's just you alone, you're not as much of a threat. >> that was such a perfect, i mean i'm not saying the other prnts perfect pieces of casting because i adore those people, but she got in my head, and it was-- i even heard her voice when i was writing luna. >> rose: but how did harry differ from the actor in this case. i mean how did the picture you had in your head differ from the picture we see on the screen. >> dan, rupert and emma, and they know, i said this to them. they are much better looking than the kids i saw in ply head. emma is staggeringly
beautiful. >> you didn't see that kind of -- >> no. in the book hermione, she's a plain jane, although, she sorts herself out a little bit and gets a little more styled as she gets older. but what emma has which made her, which i am so glad they cast her as hermione, emma is a very intelligent girl who played intelligence beautifully. emma is not at all, even though she is stunningly beautiful, emma is not at all about her looks. you know that is who emma is, and that shown through in her portrayal as hermione. that is why she was such a smart bright girl and i needed her to be that kind of person. >> just how i remember it, the trees, the river. everything. like nothing's changed. not true, of course, everything's changed.
all the trees, the river, not even me. maybe we should just stay here, harry, grow old. >> rose: did the movies teach you anything about your characters? did you see anything about your characters that might have added to their complexity. because actors can take lines. >> yeah, definitely, and make them their own. >> rose: their job is to enhance them. >> gary oldman was fantastic as sirius. he was amazing. and he gave sirius something that was in my mind for sirius but on screen, i really saw it, that slight edge of insanity, of being unbalanced, someone who had been locked up for a long time. and he just played that. >> now this is me. i want you to take the others and get out of here. >> what? >> no, i'm staying with you. >> you have done beautifully. now let me take it from here.
>> rose: when you're writing this with the multiple characters you have, is finding somebody that is a bit crazed, is that like thrilling? because you can do so many things. >> you've got to reign it in, though. >> rose: to make it -- >> to pitch it right. because otherwise it just becomes like a cardboard and paste caricature. you've got to-- you've still got to find the center of the crazy person, belatirxi in the book is probably the most out of control insane person in the book. she he a vicious even more than voldemort who has a control about him. but that was how i saw her, that she was, there was a kind of, a lack of boundaries. >> rose: yeah, does literary merit matter? >> in generally speaking. >> rose: no, for what you
write? i mean will you be bothered by reviews that are not as kind as others even though they are reputable people. >> no. >> rose: does matter. >> no. >> rose: does it matter because, you know, you can't affect your life or your psyche? >> there are two things i would say to that. first of all, it is one of the amazing and wonderful things about literature, as about film and muss sick it's out irly subjective. so that's the point of it, you know, that's the point. of course you move in that world. if you expect to just stand under a shower of perpetual praise there is something wrong with you. >> rose: exactly right. >> are you will get criticism. i knew that going in. the funny thing is i'm not a particularly, i was never a very confident person and there are areas in my life in which i'm very thin skinned. but not in this area. in this area i think it's right and proper. i should be criticized.
and that's-- . >> rose: and you can learn from it? >> yeah, sometimes, absolutely. it depends. i mean i, there have been reviews but i thought yeah, that's fair comment. and i need to take that on board, yeah, of course. >> rose: so where are you thin-skinned? >> i don't-- i was a very-- back to adolescents. i was a very self-conscious adolescent. >> about. >> about everything in, you know. and that fold me into adulthood. and i've had to learn to be a little more grown-up. >> rose: are there any insecurities left. >> yeah, loads of them. i'm not showing them on tv. >> rose: well, give me an example of the kind of thing you are talking about. what you could be secure b you have a great marriage toy a wonderful doctor. >> i do. >> rose: jessica is doing just fine, thank you very much, yes. >> but i'm a human being like anyone else. and we all have our insecurities. and we all have places where we feel we could do better. >> rose: but is it about something other than mortality and morality? >> or vanity?
>> listen, all of those things are in all of us. we all worry about those things and i'm not immune. >> rose: do you have anything that you want to prove now? i mean -- >> i want-- . >> rose: this was an effort to say i can go somewhere else and-- and tell different kinds of stories because in the end i'm a story teller, and that is what i do. >> fundamentally that is what i wanted to write next so i wrote it i knew perfectly well that some people wouldn't love it. but that's okay. that's okay. that's how it should be. and indeed with a book like this, if some people didn't hate it, i would have written it wrong. >> rose: yeah, exactly. in other words, -- >> you can't please all the people all the time. >> rose: it means you wouldn't have taken risk. >> exactly. >> rose: so what kind of role do you want to have, you know, as the member of the community you are now part of this larger
community, and you and the queen and -- >> me and the queen. >> rose: all of that. i mean are you a pub -- >> the olympics was amazing. >> rose: because. >> because danny boyle who. >> rose: produced it. >> produced it, exactly, he asked me to do it twice. >> rose: i thought of him as a filmmaker. >> he was amazing. he was like a general. there were so many thousands of people involved in that. >> rose: that is what director does. >> yeah, well i never had seen such a graphic demonstration of the skills that you need. but so he persuaded me. i said no a couple of times. i was terrified. >> rose: how did he persuade you. >> we had a face-to-face meeting. and my husband was there also. and he told me everything that was going to happen, including the queen jumping out of the plane and-- and after he told me the queen jumping out of the plane, i thought no one is even going to remember i was there. so that really brought down my anxiety level. i understood, i was going to be a small cog in an amazing machine. and i thought i will be very proud to be part of this. and i should do it it was ter fiing it was terrifying.
>> rose: which part was terrifying. >> 80,000 people in the crowd walking out there. and then the knowledge which i was trying very hard to block out, of how many people were watching on tv. and for someone who used to be phobic about public speaking, this was, you know this was quite a big deal. >> rose: but you were so relaxed here in this conversation. >> but this is easy. this just feels like you and me sitting at a table so it's very easy for me-- . >> rose: it's that kind of table. >> yeah. >> rose: it is easy. but so when you think about the future in terms of, i mean do you-- you don't have much to prove other than to continue doing what brings you great joy. what is the satisfaction of writing for you? >> other than it's what you do. >> like this is what i do. >> you know, i wish i knew the answer to that. because-- but it is, it is what i do. and it's so fundamental and i have such a powerful need to write.
>> rose: need. >> yes, a need. >> rose: if you didn't do it you would be -- >> i think i would be very mentally ill. >> rose: mentally ill. >> yeah, maybe. i remember when i-- years ago i read for the first time virginia wolf had been told she mustn't write and i remember feeling that is horrific. how could they have stopped her writing. that's me with the, i can't tell you how serious that would be to me. but why, i'm not quite clear sure what is it. >> does it give you identity and definition. >> i have a-- i suppose i have a real need to go and create a different world in my head. i am driven to do that. >> rose: yeah. and was that why harry potter was what it was because you needed to create another world. >> yeah, and then i brought all the problems from this world into that world too. but it was a great way of examining those problems in that parallel, seemingly
more-- seemingly safer place. it wasn't really safer at all. >> rose: you describe the great joy of being two-thirds in and you know where it's going. and are you really on a high then. >> yeah. >> rose: are you on a high when you get the idea as you did on the train, as you did on the plane and you knew. >> yeah. >> rose: and do you know it? >> yeah, because i always know when i've had a decent idea. and this has never let me down because i get this physical response like this rush av dren lynn. it is really physical. that's how i-- that's how i think of the good ideas from the bad ideas. >> rose: do you have another idea now that thrills you and excites you. >> yeah, i do. i know what my next-- i'm pretty sure what my next two books will be, so yeah. >> rose: they are? >> well, one is for kids and one is for adults. and i am excited about both of them. >> rose: do you mix them up? i mean can you write two of them at the same time. >> not-- not exactly. >> rose: you can go there and here. >> not exactly but i have two notebooks with me on
this trip, one for each book so i'm jotting in both, but nass's notebooks. i'm not really writing, just ideas. >> rose: but you also by nature of where you are, what you have done and what you can do, have you become a finely tuned observer of human nature? >> i think i always-- was. >> rose: that was there. >> i mean i'm fascinated by people. and that is at the heart of absolutely everything i've written. because i do firmly -- >> you didn't learn that at school, did you. >> no, i think you just are that way. i was curious. >> i was just very interested in people. i do think that so often i have been asked what was it about harry potter that captivated people. and the magic was fun but it was ultimately it was the characters that kept people coming back. it was the people. >> rose: how do you write? dow get up in the morning early, do you make coffee and sit down. >> my best work, late 40s, believe you me the best work is done early morning. i used to-- earlier-- when i
was in my 20s i would-- coy and did sit up all night. but those days are gone. i, it's really best to get up early, and i find that the morning is the-- . >> rose: early means what. >> well, my husband needs to be off at 6:30 to get to work. and the kids need to be up early to get off to school. so once they have gone and the house is empty then i would start work. then i would get another coffee and start working. and that's the ideal writing time, those hours in the morning. >> rose: and how long? >> well, i can write a lot of hours in the day. i mean i've done eight hour days comfortably recently. >> rose: and are you disappointed-- does every day that you sit down for eight hours a day you have something on the page. >> yeah, definitely. >> rose: you don't go days in which are you just -- >> no. >> rose: but there was, in writing this there were times, there have been times, both in harry potter and this where the struggle gave you not writers block but
something, right? aren't there have been times where you said this stress of the expectation, just wanted to leave it. >> not with this. >> rose: how long did it take to you write this. >> about that, i was writing other stuff at the same time. >> rose: like what. >> well, the other two books, you know, so there is other stuff been going on in those five years. i wasn't work on casual vacancy from beginning to end. >> rose: why not. >> because that's just, i've never worked that wap. i have always had other things going on. >> rose: were you writing seven on harry potter when you should have been writing four? >> i wrote a substantial part of another children's book midway through potter. but i still need to go back and finish because i really like it i have always jumped around. i need to have several things on the go. >> rose: you have had times where you needed to pull yourself away from it, hadn't you. the stress of, the expectation. >> never with that. >> rose: but with harry potter. >> i had a break between goblet and phoenix where it was about total-- i had, i
said to the publishers i can't gif you forebook next year. i have done one a year for four years. and it was simply-- . >> rose: broke their heart, didn't it. >> yeah, but then they got a huge book for their pain. i just said to them, i need to step, i need to recharge my batteries. and it wasn't that i didn't want to write. but i needed to step away a little. and then that, i was going to take a two-years to dot next book and i took tlooechlt and in those two years i met my husband, married my husband, had a baby. i wasn't expecting all of that to come out of taking a break. >> rose: but i'm also interested in the creative process too. i've come to understand, first of all there is no spirit on high that speaks to you, what speaks to you, you know, is an idea that you can then dive into and then make choices. you make choices about your characters. you make choices about do they do this or do they do that. >> yeah. that's what the creative idea is about. >> you're write. i find that people are very
interested in the concept of inspiration. >> right. >> and it exists for sure. i mean the ideas for both the casual vacancy and harry potter and other things that i am writing fell into my head. >> yeah. >> and where they came from, you know, you can tell yourself okay it came from somewhere in the my subconscious but it feels like someone drop it into your head that is the wonderful thing. a girl asked me at the launch of the casual vacancy in london said do you write only when are you inspired. i said no. because i would have written a page and a half. >> rose: exactly. >> and i said to her you have got to, i mean it' it's-- people, some people don't want to hear that about writing. you are not sitting there taking dictation from an angel. you've got to work. it's about structure. it's about discipline. it's all these deadly things that your schoolteacher told you you needed, you need it. >> rose: what is sort of, you never know where you get good ideas. >> no. >> rose: you don't sit there and say give me a good idea. >> you can't think yourself into that. but you can think, you can
work yourself into being inspired. i mean i ha sat in front of the blank page, i remember chapter 13, harry potter and the goblet of fire. the number of times i rewrote that damn chapter. >> rose: because. >> it was just technically very ditch because i needed to show something without showing it. i needed to-- i think is chapter 13. i'm pretty sure it is. >> rose: if you don't know, i don't know who does. >> there are people out there watching, how can you not-- how you cannot know. i can recite that kaptur verbatim i'm so humiliated. >> rose: you're right. >> anyway, but it was technically very difficult to convey the information i needed to convey while hiding certain things. and god knows how often i rewrote it. but the reality is, it's like a scientist. everything that fails brings you closer to what works. >> rose: your mom. >> uh-huh. >> rose: i mean how, all of us have this instinct, god, i wish my mom or my dad was
here. >> uh-huh. >> rose: to hear this story, to share this joy, to see this. because we all want to say. >> look what i did. >> rose: look what i did, yeah. >> yeah, definitely. it's a very complex question for me. because i mean what wouldn't i give to have my mother see what happened. and it would have meant so much to her. i mean she was such a reader. and valued books and literature very, very highly and the house was full of books because of my mother. so on that level, i mean the human, the most personal level, as i say, what wouldn't i give. was's crazy about the situation is that if she hadn't died, the books wouldn't have been what they are. so i get to caught in one of those horrible sort of time loops. also it's, if my mother hadn't died i would they ever have gone to teach abroad because when she was alive and unwell i wouldn't
have left the country. if i hadn't gone to live an teach in portugal i never would have met my ex-husband. i wouldn't have one of the most important people ever in my life, my oldest daughter. so it's-- you know, life throws you these terrible, terrible things that seem so atrocious and so appalling. and yet somehow we do get through them. and then you look back and think, wow, but i got given my daughter. that wouldn't have happened. and as i say, her death infuses the whole harry potter series. because everything became a little darker and deeper after she died. hi been writing for six months before she died. and then i got to experience what harry experienced. i lost one of the people who meant most to me in the whole world. and as i say, the books would be very different if she had lived. >> rose: what would you say to her? >> i would say,. >> rose: look what you did. >> well, yeah. >> rose: and would you say -- >> look what happened. >> rose: in living and in
dying you have given me -- >> yeah, well exactly. exactly. and she-- i'm very grateful that i had her until 25. it wasn't long enough. >> rose: and you now try to provide some research funds for people to somehow come to a greater understanding of -- >> yeah. >> rose: what happens. >> she died from complications to do with her multiple sclerosis, multiple sclerosis doesn't kill people. but the complications resultsing from the disease may. and she was very unlucky. she had a se severe form of the disease. one thing i have learned over the years i've been involved with research, and it's part of what is so strange, something we need to understand about the disease is how variable its course can be. so i really wouldn't want anyone newly diagnosed to watch this and think oh my god what is going to happen. because i have met people, you know, since becoming involved in research who are doing just fine. and then there are other people like my mother. >> rose: we have done programs at this table with scientists.
>> it is, i mean it is never a great time to be dike nosed but there has never been a better time for people with ms there are treatment options out there now. and there is some great research out there and alternatives, lots of alternatives for people. >> rose: how about your father. >> well, we, yeah, i'v i've-- discussed this. we don't really have a relationship. >> rose: was it 2003, was it or -- >> i know it's been a pretty much a decade, so yeah, must have been, yeah. >> rose: why? >> well, i have an aversion to, i mean i don't want to speak for anyone but me. so i am not going to. >> rose: so from you. >> because sometimes i think our relationship is so difficult that that happens. and i don't say that lightly.
obviously that's a very big deal. but equally i'm not ashamed to say that i made a decision that i don't regret. and that's where we were. but i don't want to go into really personal stuff. because i do genuinely feel it's unfair when the other person isn't here to have their say. >> rose: there is also this about you. which i found fascinating. when we had a conversation in the morning over at cbs there were people lined up to see you. >> right. >> rose: and that has, i was just struck by how meaningful that is to you. >> of course. >> rose: they want to go and buy this book. and they want to stand outside half the night to see you. because of what the book has meant to them. >> because of what the book means to them. and how-- . >> rose: just to touch the person that said something that -- >> well, how as a writer couldn't you be incredibly touched by that. i have a particular feeling for, and many of these
people now of course are in their early 20s. the people who grew up with harry. so i think that my books occupied a special place in their lives. they grew up with harry year-on-year. and now i am meeting young adults who had that experience. an that's incredibly moving to meet people of that age who are standing there in front of you seeing things or telling you what you meant in their childhoodment i can't imagine anyone would be phenomenally moved by that. it's wonderful. >> rose: an before we leave you this evening, this montage of the harry potter films, one of the highest grossing combination of films in the history of movies. >> you've made a mistake. i mean i can't be a wizard. i mean i'm just harry, just harry. >> welcome to hog warts. now, in a few moments you will pass through these
doors and join your classmates. but before you can take your seats you must be sorted into your houses. they will griffindorf. huff elpuff, ravenclaw, and schriterin. now while you're here, your house will be like your family. your triumphs will earn you points. and your rule breaking you will lose points. >> what's that. >> chamber of secrets' been opened. enemies beware. it's written in blood. >> tell them hog warts is no longer safe. it is as we feared. the chamber of secrets has indeed been opened again. >> isn't he beautiful.
>> hey hello to buckby. >> hagrid what is that? >> we now have our three champions. but in the end, only one will go down in history. only one will hoist this chall is of champions, this vessel of victory. the triwizard cup. >> he really is out there, isn't he? we've got to be able to defend ourselves. and if he refuses to teach us how, we need someone who will. >> you must obey every command i give you without question. >> yes, sir. >> you do understand what i am saying. should i tell you to hide, you hide.
>> all your characters right there. >> uh-huh. >> take a look at this. this is what people have said to me about you and about the series. on this program. roll tape. >> tell me who harry potter is and why it is so phenomenally successful. >> i think it taps into the basic idea, i look at myself as a kid, when i was growing up in ohio. when i was 11 years old. i would have given anything to get a letter from hog warts school of witchcraft and wizardly saying i will take you out of this dreary existence. i will let you escape from this life. basically at its heart these books give people a sense of hope. and you can be 8 years old and feel that. you can be 10 or 11. particularly for kids. it gives them a sense of empowerment, hope, saying you can do something different with your life. she's a very easy person to edit because she knows what she is doing and is very confident. and those are the easiest kinds of people to work with because you can give her any
kind of feedback and don't have to worry that she will be distressed by it or thrown by it. she knows what she wants. and if i just tell her how i react, she knows what to do with it. >> there is also something extra. beyond the themes that it speaks to. it is just this divine piece of writing, that's all. >> rose: divine piece of writing. >> she's a great wriferment i hope she writes a whole other kind of thing after this so that people believe this. when the last book came out, you had me-- do you remember this, you showed a clip from harold bloom saying how terrible these books were and he hadn't read any except the first one. she is an extraordinary writer. >> rose: tell me what the essence of the books is. >> well, the books in general, i think that part of the success of what j.k. rowling did is that she crafted this adventure, but them atically she dealt with the themes and the characters from an archetype kind of standpoint. so like fairy tales and
tables. and then they connect directly into how many consciousness. >> rose: yeah. >> the obviously it is not that realistic kind of universal. but the emotions are very real. the emotions are very human even if they are wizards. >> rose: how do you explain this phenomenon? >> it beats me. the only thing i can say is if connects directly to -- >> i'm not saying this because it presents any culture. i mean harry pot certificate as big in japan as in edge land or america. >> so. >> i can only assume that is because it carries such a universal energy that people relate to that. >> there it is. >> wow. >> thank you. >> thank you, very, very much. >> thank you for joining us. see you next time. captioning sponsored by rose communications